Thanks for reading and for your questions.
In fact, I addressed a few of them in an article I wrote for msn.ca a few years ago, entitled “How to survive as a tourist in Paris,” particularly as it relates to how not dress (ie. leave the New Balance runners at home) and how to pass yourselves off as locals.
I also think Parisians suffer an unfair reputation for being ‘rude.’ If you come to Paris expecting the same kind of service as you get back in the US, then yes, you will be disappointed. But that’s because the service culture is just different here. It’s important to step out of our own ecosystem of beliefs and expectations when traveling.
You won’t be greeted in Parisian shops by annoyingly chirpy, happy sales clerks, for instance, whose sole job that day is to greet every customer who walks through the door (a job I hated personally when I worked at a clothing store during university).
And like any big city, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to service in restaurants. You may be fortunate to have a lovely, warm waiter/waitress who’s genuinely happy and enjoys their job, or you may get miserable curmudgeons who will be curt and impatient. But that’s true of any big (or even small) city.
Just be mindful of how you yourself behave. Be pleasant, and smile. And don’t take things too personally if you are treated poorly in a restaurant. Just let it slide.
It’s interesting you bring this up, as the city is also aware that they suffer a worldwide reputation for being rude: last year, the city’s tourism office distributed pamphlets and brochures to taxi drivers, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs on how to be more polite to foreign visitors, a story I covered for work as a tourism editor.
I would also make an effort to learn a few basic words and phrases: merci (thank you) and bonjour (hello) of course, being the most important ones, and excusez-moi (pronounced excuseh-mwah) for, well, excuse me, and you should be set.
Overall, my advice would be to try and shake off any preconceived notions you have of the city, and start with a clean slate. You’ll come to your own conclusions after your vacation.
Don’t stress, it’s completely unnecessary. The city is used to hosting millions of tourists.
I would love to hear how it goes, keep me in the loop! Hope this long-winded answer helped in some way.
Thanks again for reading and have a wonderful time! Lucky gal!